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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 2, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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d.o.e., the department of energy, or g.a.o. determine that the new regulations would raise energy prices or destroy jobs, the new regulations could not fake effect. the e.p.a. could still proposal new regulations but those regulations couldn't be finalized until it's certified that those new rules would not negatively impact jobs or energy costs. mr. president, we've got over ten million people who remain unemployed. economic growth and job creation remain stagnant. and middle-class incomes have dropped by $3,000 per family over the past five years. the last thing that middle-class families need is for their pocketbooks to be further stretched by misguided government policies that drive up energy costs. it is time to put a check on the e.p.a., it's time to have an open debate and amendment process on commonsense proposals to increase congressional oversight. and it's time to put consumers
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ahead of liberal environmental groups. i encourage my colleagues on the floor with me today, mr. president, to continue pushing for policies that make energy more abundant and more affordable, unlike the heavy-handed regulations we've seen from the obama administration, these policies will actually create jobs and help grow the middle class in this country. i'm going to continue fighting along with my colleagues who are here, joined me on the floor today to ensure we get votes on these policies and begin to rein in the out-of-control regulations from the obama administration. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i'm pleased to be here with my colleagues talking about ways we can get people back to work, energy policies that clearly every economist that you talk to understands are a key to the future, i know the republican leader has joined us on the floor and i think i'm
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going to ask him if he has some comments he'd like to make and can come back to me at the end of his comments. mr. mcconnell: i thank my friend from missouri. what we've been talking about here is how to create jobs and, unfortunately, the agenda of the senate democratic majority does just the opposite. and it appears as if we're not likely to be able to get any amendments offered that would actually create jobs and opportunity for our people. one of the things that i've been so disturbed about over the years is the inability of employees to make a voluntary choice about whether they want to belong to a union. in addition to the energy jobs measures that we're discussing here today, i have another related measure i'd like to highlight, as i mentioned earlier this morning in my opening remarks, enacting national right-to-work legislation is just plain common
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sense. my colleague from kentucky, senator paul, has been the leader on this issue. it's a fundamental issue of worker freedom. this amendment would empower american workers to choose whether or not they'd like to join a union. it would protect a worker from getting fired if she would rather not pay dues to a union boss who fails to represent her concerns and her priorities. according to one survey, 80% of unionized workers agreed that workers should be able to choose whether to join a union. it's an issue of upward mobility. a worker should be able to be recognized and rewarded for her individual hard work and productivity. that is paycheck fairness. a worker should no longer be held back by an antiquated system where pay raises are based on seniority rather than on merit. this is an issue of leveling the playing field, workers in all states should have a more equal
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chance of finding work in every state and they should no longer see their communities failing to secure new investment because their state hasn't passed a right to work. so, mr. president, i'd like to ask unanimous consent that it be in order for me to offer my amendment number 2910 which i have just described to my colleagues here in the senate. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, reserving my right to object, the underlying measure is a bipartisan response to emergency in terms of extending unemployment, it is a five-month temporary extension. given that nature of the underlying legislation, i would object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i know nonthune, my friend from south dakota and i have worked for a long time on the kinds of economic and
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troublesome regulations that he's talked about earlier and nobody appears to be answerable to the people who come forward at these regulations. i think he's got an amendment on that and i'd like him to have a chance to talk about that amendment. mr. thune: i thank the senator from missouri, senator blunt, he and i have worked very hard when it comes to the overreach of government agencies and the burden of related agencies, -- regulations, and what it's doing to middle-class families and their pocketbooks. i mentioned a couple of amendments that i had filed here that pertained to energy costs in my home state of south dakota. one of which sets a 50 plldz threshold -- $50 million threshold over which a regulation proposed by the e.p.a. would have to be voted on by the congress of the united states. and if, in fact, congress rejected it, the e.p.a. would have to go back to the drawing board to come up with an alternative approach. so that amendment, mr. president, is number 2895
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and in the it fits perfectly with what we're talking about here today which is growing our economy and creating jobs and trying to do things that would actually get people back to work and certainly the burdensome cost of regulation is a tremendous deterrent and impediment to job creation in this country. unanimous consent it be in order for me to offered amendment 2895. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senior senator from rhode island is recognized. mr. reed: reserving my right to object, once again, given the emergency nature of this bipartisan legislation to address the plight of millions of americans looking for work, i would object and hope we could pass on to passing the underlying legislation. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from missouri is recognized. mr. blunt: mr. president, let's talk about this topic a little bit long of regulation. again, in my view and my friend from south dakota and i have
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shared this view a long time, when the congress passes laws and i think it is appropriate that we're not always in the best place to come up with regulations that put those laws in place, but i believe the country has clearly come to a place where nobody is then answerable for regulations that have a significant impact on our economy. the senator from kentucky, senator paul, and i have cosponsored the reins act which would say that any of these laws that meet this kind of threshold, it's a bill before the congress, we can't get that bill to the floor. senator thune and i for a long time have worked on this kind of proposal that would simply create opportunity. now, the emergency nature of the opportunity is really a five-year emergency now to where we've seen job opportunity after job opportunity go away, part of it because of what surely were the unintended but the clear consequences of the
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affordable care act, part of it, rules and regulations that don't make sense to people that are about to take enough of a chance with their -- with their creation of opportunity for themselves and somebody else without having the idea that someone answerable to them is eventually going to have to answer for what the federal government does and that's what bringing these regulations to the floor would do. nobody is saying that congress should be responsible for implementing every law in -- but we should be responsible pour the impact of that law and should have the final say on rules and regulations that we have essentially started in motion, they should come back here. if we don't do this on this bill today we should do this, we should have done this years ago, many of us in this body have believed in the congress for a long time that this is one of the major impediments to job creation and then another
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impediment is just bad energy policy. that's why there are so many energy amendments. the amendment that i offered where we couldn't -- the congress couldn't have a carbon tax unless it passed a threshold of 60 votes. i offered this amendment before in the budget debate last year and 53 of my colleagues, democrats and republicans here on the floor, agreed that yes, we should have a special threshold for this, a tax that makes gas at the gasoline pump more expensive, makes diesel fuel that delivers products more expensive, that raises everybody's utility bill that has some element of fossil fuel in their utilities and that's virtually everybody, that makes it less likely that people will create manufacturing jobs and those kinds of opportunities here, of course we ought to be talking about those kinds of policies, whether it's the carbon tax, in ohio, in
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missouri and wyoming, in the vast middle of the country, our energy comes from fossil fuels. those are the resources we have. our focus should be on using those more effectively, not figuring out ways that key wee couldn't use them at all or figuring out ways to double the utility bill. the e.p.a.'s own estimate of their own rule that the -- they say would go up 80% if the rule is in place. i think that's probably a little bit optimistic on their part but 80%, that's almost doubling your current utility bill by two and then thinking about where you work or your daughter-in-law works or your son-in-law works or somebody in your family works, double the utility bill there and decide whether or not there would still be a utility bill there or that company would decide to go somewhere else. the incredibly capable and competitive american work force is being held back bayou tilt
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policies -- by utility policies that hold people back. the energy cost of manufacturing according to the national association of manufacturers and others, is that a key element now in that final decision to decide whether where you're going to build something, where you're going to make something and most importantly for families, where you're going to create a job that has the kind of take-home pay that families need. and the keystone pipeline, the use of the -- the ability to maximize our use of natural gas, of fracking for oil, we have great resources and we should use those resources to our benefit. every other country in the world when they look at their tableau of natural resources, the first two words that come to mind in every other country in the world are economic opportunity or economic advantage. what does this allow us to do
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that we couldn't do otherwise? what advantage does this give us over our competitors? you can't let the first two words that come to your mind when you look at your natural resources be environmental hazard. what's the worst thing that would happen and what would happen if that happened every day. that is a sure way, one, the worst thing that happened is something you ought to think about, but not be overwhelmed by, you should figure out how 0 to see that doesn't happen and if it does happen, what are we immediately prepared to do about it so it's not an ongoing problem? that's the whole formula that it takes on the energy side, on the natural resources side to create opportunity. and the one thing that government policies can do, they can't create jobs but they can create an environment where people want to create private-sector jobs. that is and continues to be the number-one priority domestically this congress should be focused
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on, what do we do to create more private-sector jobs. i think energy is a big part of that. certainly my friend from wyoming, senator barrasso, who has brought us together here to talk about this, understands that so well. that energy regulation, policies that make sense, are the kind of policies that help us create the opportunities that hardworking families need and that families who would like to see somebody in their family have that job with great take-home pay are focused on. and i would yield back to my friend, senator barrasso. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming is recognized. mr. barrasso: i appreciate the comments from my colleague, senator blunt, who has been a leader and a champion in the issue a of getting people back to work. we heard the senator from rhode island saying that there are people out there desperately looking for work and what we are doing is bringing to the floor pieces -- amendments to this piece on the floor that will actually get people back to work
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nearly immediately. so i rise today to discuss how congress can actually help the people who are unemployed get back to work. we've been debating all we can whether the senate should extend unemployment insurance to the long-term unemployed. whether or not one supports extending unemployment insurance, we should all agree that job creation should be the top priority. this to me is where the unemployment insurance bill is currently written falls short. that's why i along with a number of my colleagues have filed amendments which would help create nearly 100,000 jobs. our amendment would do two things. president obama has failed to do them. owrnld that i'm -- our amendment that i'm here with senator hoeven to discuss would approve the keystone x.l. pipeline as well as liquefied natural gas exports to our allies. the keystone pipeline has been
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pending over five and a half years. over five and a half years. during that time the obama administration has conducted five separate environmental reviews of this project. the five environmental reviews in the last five and a half years. and despite this scrutiny, president obama continues to delay approving the keystone x.l. pipeline. he continues to delay approving a pipeline even though its construction would supportveverr now, that 42, number, that's not my number, mr. president. those are the job estimates from president obama's own state department. the ploip pipeline -- keystone x.l. pipeline has broad bipartisan support throughout the country. a recent "washington post"/abc news poll found that 65% of americans support the construction of the keystone x.l.e.
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labor unions, such as the plumbers and pipefitters, the building and construnnd construn the union of operating engineers, among others, have all called on the president of the united states to approve the keystone x.l. pipeline. just over a year ago, 62 members of the senate voted in favor of the keystone x.l. pipeline. now, if the senate is going to extend unemployment insurance, it should also help americans get back to work. we should adopt this amendment which approves the keystone x.l. pipeline. the other part of the amendment deals with approving l.n.g. exports, liquefied natural gas, exporting to our allies and strategic partners. before getting into the specifics of that, mr. president, i was going to ask my colleague and friend from north dakota, senator hoeven, who has worked closely with those supporters of the keystone x.l. pipeline, a man who was governor of the state of north dakota during the early discussions of that to have his thoughts and why we think this
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is important to the economy, to help those people who are unemployed and help getting americans back to work. mr. hoeven: i'd like to thank the esteemed senator. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to thank the esteemed senator from wyoming for leading this colloquy. really, our effort here is to address the problem in real terms, address in real terms the problem that the legislation we have on the floor right now, unemployment insurance bill, to truly address the problem, which is getting people back to work rather than additional government payments added onto the payments that are already made. what we're trying to do is help make sure there is a job to get people back to work, and energy is an incredible opportunity to do just that. and so when we talked about this energy legislation, it's about producing more energy for our country, but it's about jobs,
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it's about economic growth, and it is about national security. so i want to again commend the esteemed senator from wyoming for leading the charge on legislation that would allow us to export liquefied natural gas. we currently consume in the united states on an annual basis about 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas a year, but we produce 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas a year, so we're already in a situation where we're producing more than we consume. we import some from canada, and we're growing in terms of our domestic production in states like wyoming, in my home state and others across the country with the shale gas development, we're producing more and more natural gas. we need a market for that natural gas, and europe very much needs natural gas so that they are not dependent on russia for their energy. so what we're talking about is an opportunity here at home to
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actually create more economic activity and what? put people to work. put people back to work. that's the real solution. and you know what? it doesn't cost the government one penny. instead, we get revenue. not from higher taxes but from a growing economy and people going back to work. so when we look at this legislation, we have taken legislation that's led by the senator from wyoming. we have tied it together with keystone legislation that i have submitted. we call it the energy security act, and it does those two things. it approves the keystone x.l. pipeline, a $5.3 billion investment by private companies in our economy, by the obama administration's own estimates. their state department has said it will create more than 40,000 jobs in the construction phase. we tie that with legislation
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that's been put forward by the senator from wyoming, which i am extremely pleased to cosponsor. we put those two together, l.n.g. export with keystone, and we have submitted it -- we have filed it as amendment number 2891. i therefore ask unanimous consent that it be in order for me to offer my amendment number 2891. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reed: mr. president, reserving my right to object, once again, the underlying legislation is designed to help 2.6 million americans who need the support. it is a bipartisan amendment, and there is a time and a place to debate all these issues, but i think the time and place now is to move forward and vote on the underlying amendment. therefore, i would respectfully object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: with due deference to the good senator, i understand his desire to make
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sure that people who are unemployed receive assistance, and i think that he truly is a champion in that effort. i appreciate the opportunity to work with him in a bipartisan way, but i would submit that this very legislation absolutely compliments what he is trying to do and does it in a number of ways. first in terms of a permanent, a real long-term solution, meaning getting those people back to work, but second in terms of paying for it, in terms of actually paying for the cost of unemployment insurance, these will -- these provisions -- this amendment and the other amendment that we are offering will actually help create revenue to do what the senator is trying to do, and for that reason i think it is absolutely complementary to the legislation at hand and will, in fact, add bipartisan support to passage of that legislation. let me cite one more, i think, extremely compelling study that
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relates to this point before i turn back to the senator from wyoming, and that is that the u.s. chamber of commerce in 2011 commissioned a study, and they went out and they had experts do an evaluation of energy projects that are awaiting approval to proceed from the administration. so awaiting permits or other requirements so that they could proceed with these energy projects. what i'm talking about is energy projects that total billions, even hundreds of billions of dollars where private companies are willing to invest their money and develop energy resources across this great country. now, the u.s. chamber of commerce study that i cite was performed in 2011. it came back and said that there are more than 350 energy
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projects, both renewable type energy and traditional energy that are stalled because of bureaucratic red tape on the part of the federal government at a cost of $1.1 trillion to the american economy and nearly two million jobs for the american people. think about that. two million jobs for the american people when what we're talking about here today is the unemployed. what we're talking about here today is putting people back to work. and i want to cite from that study. in aggregate, planning and construction of the subject projects, the investment phase, would generate $577 billion in direct investment. calculated in current dollars, the direct and induced effect, multiplier effects, would generate an approximate $1.1 trillion increase in u.s. gross domestic product, g.d.p.,
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including $352 billion in employment earnings based on present, discounted value over an average construction period of seven years. furthermore, we estimate that as many as 1.9 million jobs would be required during each year of construction. good-paying construction jobs. okay? now, the keystone x.l. pipeline is just one of those more than 350 projects, and it alone is an investment of $5.3 billion. it alone, according to the state department's own estimates, will create more than 40,000 jobs. what are we trying to do here? i thought it was trying to put people back to work, trying to make sure that they have an opportunity in states like ohio,
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states like my state -- of course in my state, we have got an energy boom. we're trying to get people. we have more jobs than people because we have unleashed this investment in energy. we have done that in our state. why not do it across the country? why not do it across the country? there is no question we can. we have offered other amendments as well. and the other point i want to make is they are bipartisan amendments. they are amendments that really don't -- that don't cost the federal government any money but create incredible investment and incredible opportunity for our people, and they are bipartisan. one of the amendments, one of the amendments put forward by the senator from missouri passed through the house with one dissenting vote, one dissenting vote. and i don't know if the one dissenting vote was a republican or a democrat, but i don't know how you get any more bipartisan
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than that because they were one short of unanimous. so that's what we are talking about here. and i know that negotiations and discussions are going on as to votes that we may get on the legislation that we're offering as part of this unemployment insurance bill, and i ask the leadership on the majority side to allow us to vote on these amendments. we'll accept the verdict of the senate. all 100 get to vote. that's what we were sent here to do. so i will close with that. this really isn't about either the democrat side of the aisle or the republican side of the aisle. this is about the people who are unemployed and need an opportunity, and we absolutely have the ability to give them that opportunity, so let's do it. let's do it. that's -- that's what this debate is all about. and again, i want to thank the distinguished senator from wyoming for leading the
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discussion. he has been an energy leader as well as a physician, so he has certainly been a leader on the health care issue, too. but he has certainly been an energy leader in his state as a leading energy-producing state, and as i said at the outset and as he's made the point so eloquently, this is an opportunity, energy is an opportunity. it is jobs, it is economic growth and it's national security. and so let's go. let's get it done. and with that, mr. president, i would turn the -- turn to my colleague from wyoming and again thank him for his leadership of this important discussion. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming is recognized. mr. barrasso: mr. president, how much time remains? the presiding officer: five minutes and 20 seconds. mr. barrasso: thank you very much, mr. president. i appreciate very much the comments from my friend and colleague from north dakota, a state in which he served as governor, a business leader in
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the community and knows -- knows the state very well and knows the importance of energy, not just to his state's economy but to the economy of the country and to the importance for people who want work, who want jobs, and i think just bringing together the issues of the keystone x.l. pipeline as well as the exploitation of -- exploration of liquefied natural america back to work. gas are things that will bring since 2010, the obama administration approved only seven applications to export liquefied natural gas. the administration is sitting on 24 pending applications. now, 13 of those applications have been pending for more than a year. some of these appear occasions have been -- applications have been pending for more than two years. to put this in context, the united states has approved less than half of the l.n.g. export capacity that canada has approved. to me, this administration's delays are unacceptable and the
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excuses have run out. i take a look at this from the standpoint of what's happening globally as well. the uconn imports -- the ukraine imports about 60% to 70% of its natural gas from russia. nine of our nato allies import 40% or more of their natural gas from russia. four of our nato allies import 100% of their natural gas from russia. l.n.g. exports would help our strategic partners and allies free themselves from russian energy. this is why our nato allies are calling on congress to expedite, expedite l.n.g. exports. l.n.g. exports will give our allies an alternative supply of natural gas and enable them to resist russia's intimidation. l.n.g. exports will also help create jobs right here at home. in february, "the economist"
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explained that l.n.g. exports could generate tanker loads of cash for the united states." more recently, nera economic consulting stated that l.n.g. exports could help reduce the unemployment rolls by as many as 45,000 workers over the next few years. this is extraordinary, mr. president, l.n.g. exports would not only create new jobs but would employ americans who cannot find work today. l.n.g. exports would raise and help as many as 45,000 americans find work. now, president obama, through his actions, has made it very clear that jobs are not his priority. he seems to be more interested in inventing new delays and new excuses than in actually creating new jobs. that's why the senate must act
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today and here in this place. that's why the senate should approve the keystone x.l. pipeline and liquefied natural gas exports and that's why we should adopt the amendment that senator hoeven has offered. and so, mr. president, i come to the floor today to say republicans have now tried to offer nine amendments, amendments that we believe would get this economy growing again, amendments that we believe would actually create jobs, put people back to work. to inform my colleagues of what i'm about to do, i'm going to be moving to table the pending reid amendment number 2878 which for everyone's information is an amendment that merely changes the date of enactment. so senators voting not to table this amendment would rather change the date than vote on amendments that would help put people back to work. in order for my colleagues to be
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able to offer amendments, i move to table the pending reid amendment number 2878, and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the question is on the motion to table. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: the motion to table is not agreed
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to. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana is recognized. the senate -- senators take their conversations out of the hall. senator vitter deserves to be heard. the senate will come to order. the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: mr. president, i have -- mr. president, i have a germane amendment to this matter which i've been trying to get recognized to present and so i call up my amendment numbered 2931 to the reid amendment 2874. the presiding officer: the amendment is not in order to be offered. it's inconsistent with senator precedence with respect to the offering of amendments, their numbers, degree and kind. mr. vitter: mr. president, in light of the fact that our practice of regularly shutting out senators from the ability to
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offer reasonable and germane amendments -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. vitter: -- is inconsistent with all of the history and traditions of the senate. i appeal the ruling of the chair that the amendment is not in order and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: the majority leader is -- mr. reid: i move to table. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the yeas and nays are ordered. the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: move to table and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered on tabling the appeal of the ruling of the chair. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 67, the nays are 29. the motion to table the appeal on the ruling of the chair is agreed to. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: the order that's now in effect in the senate, executive we move to executive session to consider the malinowski, wu, and birx nominations and ask that all time be yielded back on all of these nominations. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the senate will proceed to executive session. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nominations, department of state, toms p.
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malinowski of the district of columbia to be assistant secretary. department of labor, portia y. wu of the district of columbia to be an assistant secretary. department of state, deborah l. birx of maryland to be ambassador at large and coordinator of united states government activities to combat hiv-aids globally. the presiding officer: the question is on the malinowski nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes to have it. the nomination is confirmed. the question is on the wu nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it.
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the nomination is confirmed. the question is on the birx nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motions to reconsider are considered made and laid on the table. the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resumes legislative session. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico.
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mr. heinrich: mr. president, i can remember my first job like it was yesterday. i worked as a busboy at a local family restaurant during our small town fair. and while that job only lasted a few days, i still remember how incredibly proud yfs to have earned a few dollars myself. the next year that same family hired me to bus tables and wash dishes year round at their family restaurant. and i soon went from busing tables to bagging groceries and then stocking shelves at the local grocery store. now, i grew up on a small farming and ranching operation so whether it was drying dishes after dinner or helping my dat with cattle, hard work was simply a requirement for every single member of my family. in addition to tending cattle my bad worked as a utility lineman and my mother worked in a factory inspecting wheels on the assembly line. like a lot of americans, i learned the dignity of work long before i ever held a job.
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i learned at home. mr. president, everyone deserves a fair shot at success in this country. that is at the heart of why raising the minimum wage truly matters. minimum wage workers are not just teenagers. they're single parents working two jobs to make ends meet, they're women working a minimum wage job at a movie theater for eight years waiting for a raise. they're students working toward a degree that they hope will make all the difference in their lives. they're mothers and fathers working 40 hours a week, sometimes many more, to support their families. these are the americans who work hard and earn the federal minimum wage and still find it difficult, some would argue impossible, to get ahead. at $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage has lost more than 30% of its value over the past
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four decades. groceries and housing, education and energy costs all continue to rise, but the minimum wage simply has not kept pace. this financial hardship is especially felt by women who make up a majority of minimum wage workers in this country. and stagnant wages behind area family's chance to work were think -- their way into the middle class. for many, raising the minimum wage means the difference between poverty and dignity. it can mean the difference between a trip to the food bank and a trip to the grocery store. it means the difference between earning enough to just barrel get by and -- barely get by and earning enough to at least think about the future. that's why i am supporting the minimum wage fairness act to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015. now, according to recent
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estimates, more than 100,000 new mexicans would receive a direct raise from this legislation and another 43,000 would see their pay increase as overall wages improve dramatically, increasing economic opportunities for new mexico families. raising the minimum wage is not just good for those workers, it's good for business and it's good for the economy at large. a higher minimum wage helps reduce turnover, increases productivity, and boosts ciewmple demand. a higher minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of people who spend locally and helps create a ladder of opportunity into the middle class. americans are no strangers to hard work, and embrace the belief that if you work hard and you play by the rules, you should be able to get ahead. you deserve a fair shot. now, there are cities in new mexico who are already taking the initiative and raising the minimum wage on their own.
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the city of santa fe's minimum wage is $10.51 per hour. as the city counselor myself i fought to raise the minimum wage in albuquerque and today's albuquerque's minimum wage is still $1.25 more than the current federal rate. and in laws crewses there is -- las cruces there is a growing empt to raise that city's minimum wage. i know this fight, mr. president. we need to raise the national minimum wage so that all workers have a fair shot to get ahead. because the truth is the deck has been stacked against working families for some time now. too many working families are forced to make decisions that hurt the progress and strength of our nation as a whole, like taking on an extra shift instead of pursuing their education or having to choose between paying the heating bill or the phone bill. raising the minimum wage is key to making this economic recovery work for all of us.
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but raising the minimum wage alone is not enough to constitute a middle-class economic agenda. we need to put preschool within the financial grasp of every working family and we need to address the 2r5eu7b8gous increases in college division tuition and loan costs. we must invest in vocational training and help build the modern american manufacturing economy of the 21st century. and we must close the gender wage gap to ensure that women are paid what they deserve, paid equally with men. fair, livable wages, together with educational opportunities for middle-class families. that's a formula for a real opportunity agenda. it's time to ensure that every new mexican, every american, has a fair shot, mr. president. it's time to raise the minimum wage.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. the finance committee is considering something we call in the senate tax extenders. and one of those is the wind production tax credit. for the next ten minutes or so, i'd like to address that law which has been on the books for 20 years. it expired in december, and in my view needs to stay expired. one of the things we remember most about the late president reagan is his saying that the closest you will come to eternal life on this earth is a government program. well, my nomination for the most glaring example of a government program that seems toffee internal life is the -- seems to have eternal life is the subsidy
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for what i call big wind. here's what the wind production tax credit does. let's say you build one of these 20-story turbines and you begin -- the windmills, the turbines begin to go around as they will about a third of the time to produce electricity, and so every hour of electricity you produce, we pressure that by kilowatt-hours, the taxpayers will pay you 2.3 cents. now, mr. president, that's a pretty good deal because the wholesale price of wind, depending on the section of the country, might range from about three cents per hour to seven cents an hour. so let's say you're in oregon or a part of the country where they have pretty cheap electricity and you sell wind for three cents an hour. you will pay one cent of the money you get in federal corporate tax. that leaves you with two cents.
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but then the taxpayer is going to come in and pay you 2.3 cents on top of that. and because it's a tax credit, it's worth even more. now, mr. president, it's even better than that. that's not just for one year. that's for ten years. so every time we have a one-year extension of the wind production tax credit, we tell the owner of the wind turbine -- and usually they take these ownerships and they put them in portfolios and they split them up and sell them to rich people around the country and around the world who can use the tax credits. it's for ten years. so the wind production tax credit is 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of taxpayer money every year for ten years if you're producing electricity. now, this provision of the tax code was enacted in 1992.
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its sponsor said it was to be, in their words, temporary. it was to do what we have several times done in our country which is to jump-start a new energy technology. well, as president reagan observed, the term life for a government program sinks in pretty quickly. this temporary tax code enacted in 1992, more than 20 years ago, has had eight extensions since its enactment. and the wind industry has become a very well-developed industry. i ask president obama's nobel prize-winning energy secretary, secretary chu, in the last term of -- the first term of president obama's administration how he would describe wind power, and he said it was a mature technology. mr. president, the number one problem with the wind
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development tax credit, wind production tax credit is its cost. congress enacted a one-year extension in -- for 2013. that was a cost of $12 billion to the taxpayers. remember, not all in 2013. that's just the first year. then every year after that for nine more years, you get the subsidy. for 2014, another one-year extension which is being considered by the -- by the finance committee, that's another $6 billion. this is real money. just look at the amount of money we spend on governmentwide energy research in multiple agencies. the number is about $10 billion. so let's say we, through our research, developed a way to capture carbon from coal plants and recycle that carbon and turn
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it into something commercially feasible and sell it. then suddenly all these coal plants which people worry about because they produce carbon wouldn't -- would be as clean as nuclear power, as clean as wind power, and we would be building coal plants everywhere in america, and we would have cheap energy as a result of that, even cheaper energy for a longer period of time. we spend $10 billion on energy research in a year. the cost of the last wind production tax credit extension was $12 billion. or by comparison, take tax breaks for big oil. one of the last times president obama wanted to stop the tax breaks for what he called big oil, he identified $4 billion worth of tax breaks. well, most of those tax breaks for big oil are tax breaks that many manufacturing companies have. but the point i'm trying to make is that we're talking about lots of money. now, the supporters of this tax
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credit will say let's phase it out. i would like to get rid of it. in fact, it is phased out. if congress didn't act, it's all of those people who currently today have their wind turbines would continue to get their subsidies for up to ten more years. so that phases it out. it's already phased out. but let's say we phase it out according to a proposal that was made last year by the wind industry. well, the american wind energy alliance said that might cost as much as $50 billion over ten years, a huge amount of money. now, there could be some other form of phaseout. it might welcome the opportunity to see it that wouldn't cost so much, and maybe that would make sense, but beware the phaseout. now, mr. president, the united states uses 20% to 25% of all the electricity in the world. it's important to us. we use it for our computers, we
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use it for our businesses, we use it for our military, we use it for our lights. if the lights go out in america, america stops. that's how important electricity is to us. where does that electricity come from? 4% of it comes from wind power. of course, that's only available when the wind blows, usually at night, usually when we need it least, 4% of it after 20 years of billions of dollars. the rest of it comes 7% from hydroelectric power, 19% from nuclear power, which is about 60% of all of our clean energy. nearly 40% from coal, 27% from natural gas. so 4% from wind. now, it is true, as wind power advocates say, that in the past congress has approved other jump-starts for energy technology. but the difference is we put a cap on it. we're very happy about all the unconventional gas we have in this country today.
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suddenly we have an enormous amount of natural gas, but -- and the research for that partially came from sandia laboratory, from the department of energy demonstration grants, and there was a tax credit for -- for fracking, but it expired in 1992, and the demonstration grants are over, and this technology is out into the marketplace and making lives better all across the country. or take plug-in electric cars. i supported that. but there was a cap on the number of credits we had for plug-in electric cars. 200,000 for manufacturing. or the nuclear production tax credit. just like the wind production tax credit. sell an hour of electricity from a nuclear power plant, we'll give you a taxpayer credit, but that's capped at 6,000 megawatts, so there is a limit to it. there is no cap on the amount of electricity produced by wind --
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i don't know the exact number, but it's probably in the 50,000 or 60,000 or 70,000 range. problem number one was cost. problem number two is reliability risk. the problem here is that congress is picking winners and losers when it gives wind power such a big subsidy that sometimes the subsidy is more than the cost of the electricity. what this does is undercut our coal and nuclear plants, and what that does is put us at risk as a country. any country that uses that much electricity needs these big plants that operate almost all the time, coal and nuclear, to keep the lights on, have the jobs ready, to have the cars ready, to make america run. we can't run on windmills when the wind blows. we can't run only on solar power when the sun shines. we have to have the base load power. and because of the wind subsidy, picking and choosing winners and losers, it undercuts the base load power and it is called the
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center for strategic and international studies, a very respected organization, to say that the combination of the federal subsidy for wind power and low gas prices could cause 25% of our -- of our nuclear plants in america to close in the next ten years. that would be a terrible blow to our country's economy, to our effort to improve family incomes, to find jobs for middle-class americans. how would that be? how does it do that? well, let's take this example. let's say you're in chicago and it's the middle of the night, 3:00 a.m., and the demand for electricity goes down as people go to sleep. well, the supplier of electricity to your home or your business in chicago is buying electricity into the market from the market at the lowest possible cost. well, the demand goes down, the price goes down, and who's left out there selling electricity? it's the wind power people because they can sell their
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product at less than they paid for it and still make a profit because of the subsidy. this negative pricing is what is undermining the base load coal and nuclear. mr. president, we're very proud of the fact that in our country we have in effect a domestic price for natural gas. it's very low. the chemical companies are moving back to america instead of leaving. manufacturing plants are enjoying the lower cost. so are homeowners as they heat and cool their home. but we remember that natural gas prices can go up and they can go down. in 2005, they weren't 3-s and 4-s as they are today -- they weren't $3 and $4 as they are today. even in new england sometimes gas prices spike to $30 a unit. so it's important to have diversity and it's important to have base load power. now, the third problem is that these large wind turbines destroy the environment in the name of saving the environment. some people might like to look
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at them. i really don't, particularly in my part of the country. the only place they work are along the foothills or along the tops of the most beautiful mountains in the eastern united states. so you would string these 20-story structures with blinking lights that could be seen for 20 miles in the middle of the biggest view that you've got in the eastern united states, and they take up a lot of space, mr. president. you could run these 20-story windmills from georgia to maine to produce electricity, scarring the entire eastern landscape, and you would produce the same amount of electricity that eight nuclear power plants would produce, and you would still need the nuclear power plants to produce electricity when the wind wasn't blowing, which is most of the time. the final problem is energy security. hi a meeting with george shultz, the former secretary of state, the other day in san francisco. he made an observation i hadn't
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heard him make before. george shultz said we should pay a lot of attention to generating more energy where we use it because of national security risks, unquote. george shultz is head of the m.i.t. energy consortium. he was observing that the supply of energy ought to be near the user of energy. that's especially true with military stations. it could be true with the rest of us in this age of terrorism. and that's another reason it makes less sense to build these -- subsidize these giant turbines, say, in the great plains and then someone has to pay for 700 miles of transmission lines through back yards and nature preserves to get to memphis to bring that electricity to tennessee and the tennessee -- tennessee valley. so, mr. president, expecting the united states to operate on windmills is the energy equivalent of going to war in sailboats while nuclear power is
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available. it's even worse than that. it's the same as destroying our nuclear ships, our nuclear plants the same way and replacing them with sailboats. the energy subsidy for wind turbines has served a purpose for the last 22 years. we have spent enough money on them. we have distorted the market as much as we can stand. because of the costs and because we're undermining the base load power of coal and nuclear, which puts us at risk as a country that uses 20% to 25% of the electricity in the world, my hope would be that the finance committee would save some money and let the marketplace flourish and -- and give us the opportunity to allow the wind production tax credit to stay right where it is. naturally expire as it did at the end of last year and let
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those persons who already have the benefit of the credit enjoy them for the rest of the period of time. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i rise to address two subjects briefly on the floor and ask the remarks be divided appropriately in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record an article written in the "wall street journal" by mr. bernie markus founder of home depot. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: there's been a lot said about the affordable care act for five years. i was here when we passed it. i'm thaoer today when it is -- i'm here today when it is being implemented. this year marks one of the things we need to recognize. bernie markus, founder of home depot, opined yesterday in the "wall street journal" about the cost of obamacare to american business. a hidden tax has been unveiled
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on the american people, the american ratepayer and the american small business person. a tax assessment of $8 billion in 2014 is being levied by the affordable care act against every insurance company that sells to the small and medium-size market, to every insurance company that sells a medicare advantage policy or a medicare managed share policy. $8 billion is the 2014 assessment and it graduates up to where in 2018 it is $14.3 billion. that is used use a pay-for in the obamacare legislation. it's assessed against the insurance companies based on their market share of the insurance market in small- and medium-size carriers, medicare advantage and medicaid managed care plans. it represents about a $500 per year rate increase on every one of those policyholders because, as we all know, when an insurance company has an added
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cost to the administration of that policy, that cost is obviously passed on to the consumer. $500 a year is $5,000 in the next decade. it also represents over the next decade the loss as estimates by c.b.o. and the nfib of 146,000 jobs. let's think for a minute. the main topic we've had this year in the senate of the united states is income inequality, the need to lower unemployment and the need to create jobs. yet the signature piece of legislation of this administration is going to cost us, because of a new tax being levied against insurance companies who provide health insurance to the american people, is going to cost 146,000 jobs. it's another example of how we need to rethink the approach of the affordable care act. we have to recognize all the things it has done from a standpoint of taxes, cost and lost jobs and lost wages and reform that legislation and repeal that legislation and get it right for the people of the united states of america. and i commend bernie markus on bringing this to the people's
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attention. i commend him on all he has done for my state and for our country, and i hope he'll keep on giving us his opinion of what's best for the united states of america. secondly, america was insulted earlier this month, or earlier last month by the iranian people. the government of the nation of iran has appoint add new ambassador to the united nations, that new ambassador's name is hamid aboutabeli. he captured 52 americans and held them for 442 days, a man who claims he was an innocent bystander and did have much to do with that tragedy. if you were alive at that time and watched "nightline" shows night after night to watch the beatings, torture and terror and capture of the american people, you understand full well nobody could have been within sight of that embassy and not claim to be
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a part of it. my state has been touched. almost every state in the union. those hostages held right up until the time ronald reagan was sworn in as president was released at the last minute when the united states government waived their right to compensation against the nation of iran. the nation that held 52 of our diplomats hostage for 444 days signed an agreement never to have to pay any reparation to those people is now appointing to the united nations, the world forum, an ambassador on the sunlight tehran when those people -- on the site in tehran. first and foremost the government of iran should apologize, second the government of iran should recompensate the hostages. 52 hostages were held, 27 passed away. one took their own life as a consequence of the injuries they suffered. one of my state was on television two nights ago about the tragedy in tehran.
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his teeth were knocked out with a two-by-four in his captivity and he's going back for another surgery in another week to try to remedy some of the pain he harbors from that tragedy that took place 34 years ago. it is an insult to everything the united nations stands for, to the integrity of the people of the united states of america and the memory of those who passed and those who live who were held hostage. we should demand this appointment be withdrawn by the iranian government and we should demand they voluntarily compensate those hostages. they're not going to do that and i know that which is why we introduced legislation which i principally sponsored three years ago to compensate the 52 hostages held in captivity in 1979 until 1981. it is a shame beyond belief that 52 americans who were held hostage are the only americans in the same circumstance who have not been compensated for the damages perpetrated upon them. i hope a vehicle comes to the
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floor of the senate where we can attach this. senator kerry, while he was chairman of the committee and now senator menendez who is the chairman and ranking member corker have embraced our concept of seeing to it that we fight to see that recompense is made to those hostages captured in 1979 to 1981. we have a great compassionate country and we owe it to them and their families every effort to see to it the nation of iran compensates them and they are paid for the terrible tragedy. first and foremost iran needs to know that this united states senator and i think every united states senator realizes the affront to the american people and the insult to the united nations that iran is perpetrating by making this appointment as ambassador of their country today. and i yield back the balance of my time.
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mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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